Monday, March 23, 2009

¡Sí Se Puede!

This is the week in San Antonio when we celebrate the life of César Chávez, the labor activist and civil rights leader, born on March 31, 1927. The events here started last Thursday with a mayoral proclamation and ends next Saturday with the 13th annual César Chávez March for Justice. Tonight I am one of the people offering a reading at the César Chávez Interfaith Service at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 6:30 pm (yesterday there was a mass at the San Fernando Cathedral) and Thursday José Antonio Orosco, author of “César Chávez and the Common Sense of Nonviolence” and director of Peace Studies Program at Oregon State University, will be speaking at Our Lady of The Lake University at 7 pm (I’ll be there!)

There aren’t any essays by or about César Chávez in the Class of Nonviolence. His speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in 1984 would be a good remedy for this lack, and also adds significant insight about economic justice. A short excerpt:
"All my life, I have been driven by one dream, one goal, one vision: to overthrow a farm labor system in this nation that treats farm workers as if they were not important human beings. Farm workers are not agricultural implements; they are not beasts of burden to be used and discarded. That dream was born in my youth, it was nurtured in my early days of organizing. It has flourished. It has been attacked."
And here are a couple of short videos about Chavez and the United Farm Workers of America. The first video includes Lila Downs' most beautiful interpretation ever of Woody Guthrie's song "Pastures of Plenty" and the second is a 7:34 minute mini documentary from the DVD "A History of Hispanic Achievement in America."

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